17 elements of a successful seller



Anthony Iannarino, didn’t plan to become a salesman, sales manager, or the author of the world’s most followed sales blog.

Iannarino approached this profession with curiosity and with the sole purpose of earning something while trying to break into the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

Once he understood that he would never become the next Eric Clapton, he decided to focus on an issue that had been waiting for an answer since the dawn of time: how come very few salespeople enjoy extraordinary success, while others get mediocre results?

More than twenty years have passed since that doubt, during which he studied and tested an infinite number of strategies through his roles as commercial director, interviewing and studying many salesmen to understand what distinguishes the most successful ones.

Everything he knows and has studied is finally summed up in a useful book: The Art of Selling (HOEPLI, 2017), full of valuable information for both beginners and veterans of sales.

According to the author, success in sales does not depend on what you sell or where you sell it; it comes solely from who you are and how you build and use your skills, talents and attitudes. To be a successful salesperson, you need to focus on the elements that all “master salespeople” have in common, regardless of the sector or type of company: the right mentality and a range of indispensable skills.

Just as the periodic table of elements has 118 elements, the “periodic table of sales” has 17 elements: nine attributes that characterize the right mindset and eight necessary skills.


The right mentality for every seller

Starting from mentality, Iannarino explains how our attitudes and our vision of the world can influence the sales process: potential customers buy from sellers they love and respect, with whom they feel comfortable.

Nowadays, consumers want to buy from people with good character and a positive and proactive view of the world, and have similar behaviors and attitudes – the right mindset.

So what are the nine attributes that a salesperson needs to improve and refine?

  • Self-discipline: keeping commitments made with oneself and with others

  • Optimism: not being discouraged in the face of challenges, repeating to yourself that you will be successful and fully believing in it

  • Competitiveness: facing the competition without being intimidated

  • Responsibility: delivering the results promised to the customer

  • Resourcefulness: merging imagination, experience and knowledge to create unique solutions

  • Initiative: acting before it is necessary

  • Communication: listening to customers to create connections

  • Persistence: considering setbacks as temporary impediments and finding new approaches to challenges


The skills that each salesperson should develop

A winning mind is not enough, sales results also depend on skills.

Salespeople cannot be excellent without specific skills, which can be acquired through diligent study and intense practice on prospects.

The eight skills needed by salespeople are:

  • Prospecting: opening relationships by selecting customers, giving priority to the most interesting ones, setting up sales campaigns, segmenting and adapting the content

  • Storytelling: telling the product giving it an additional value through communication, making the prospect feel the protagonist

  • Identify the weak points by learning to ask questions and listening to the answers, always asking about the reason for things, within the sales process

  • Negotiation as creation of a win-win situation, making sure that the product / service delivers maximum value to customers

  • Business acumen: providing maximum value means more than offering products, it requires salespeople to adopt the role of trusted advisors for their customers

  • Change management: building consensus and helping others to change, projecting them positively into the future

  • Leadership: producing results and giving the credit to the team

  • Closing the sale: asking for and obtaining success, proposing the offer and guiding the customer in their exploration, then being willing to reach an agreement.

Whether your company sells to large companies, small businesses or individual consumers, this is a book to recommend to all your sellers that they will come back to consult and reread for valuable lessons, strategies and advice.

Once you have learned the mentality and the strategic “skills” presented by Iannarino, it will become much easier to understand customers from different points of view, with a single central objective: to sell.



  • According to Iannarino, success in sales does not depend on what you sell or where you sell it; it comes solely from how you use your skills, talents and attitudes.

  • All successful salespeople have in common, regardless of industry or type of company: the right mindset and a range of indispensable skills.

  • The essence of selling is contained in 17 elements: nine attributes that characterize the right mindset and eight skills necessary to understand and understand customers from different points of view, with a single central objective: to sell.

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